School of Social Work receives $330,000 to support a multi-state crisis intervention collaboration

The Wayne State University School of Social Work's Center for Behavioral Health and Justice (CBHJ) has received a collaborative grant from four local foundations - Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and the Herrick Foundation - to improve crisis response programs locally and nationally.

"We are pleased to support Wayne State University as they work to create shared learning across Michigan communities and the nation to smooth the path of behavioral health services during a crisis," said Lynda Zeller, senior fellow of behavioral health at the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. "With the help of the Center of Behavioral Health and Justice's facilitation, we can learn, grow and improve together so that everyone reaching out in crisis has the best response for them, wherever it is needed, and all have a safe place to go to recover."

As part of this grant and the co-op, the center will work to create alignment among all state and local stakeholders to assess Michigan's current crisis systems, establish state crisis policies, test the implementation of new programs, identify data metrics and address workforce shortages. Through its work in Michigan and its contributions to the multi-state co-op, the center's goal is to design and implement a systems approach to further develop the state's continuum of crisis care. This approach will ensure that services are accessible, behavioral health treatment providers proactively expand their crisis continuums, crisis systems integrate with traditional emergency responses (i.e., dispatch and law enforcement), and crisis systems overcome stigma- and insurance-related barriers to access.

"Our local-level governments acknowledge there are several problems with how we respond to mental health crises, but with such a complex interplay of systems - law enforcement, mental health, 911 dispatch, emergency departments - it can be difficult to know what to do, or what a robust crisis system should look like," said Leonard Swanson, manager of CBHJ's crisis response initiative. "The center will demystify the confusion by identifying best practice standards, assessing local-level crisis systems, and improving our ability to measure impact. Nationally, the center is rare in its community-engaged work at the behavioral health and criminal/legal field; our technical assistance will serve as a model for other states to adapt, assess and ultimately improve their own local crisis systems to be safer, more connective and more humane."

"This project aligns with the foundation's focus on improving the quality, scope and delivery of mental health services," said Andrea Cole, president and chief executive officer of the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation. "The Center for Behavioral Health and Justice's efforts and contribution to a multi-state co-op to measure and share the outcomes of crisis response will allow us to learn and improve the quality of mental health services both within Michigan and nationwide."

Wayne State's Center for Behavioral Health and Justice
Wayne State's School of Social Work is leading the charge to change crisis response in Michigan. The school opened CBHJ in 2018, and since then the center has been identifying and documenting the variation in crisis response systems at the municipal level. CBHJ's crisis response initiative determines the efficacy of different response models in providing needed support and continuity of care. The center has led multi-faceted research and programs involving partners from several state organizations, including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, community mental health service providers, and law enforcement agencies.

Supporting foundations
The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of healthcare, with a special focus on children and seniors. You can find more information about the Health Fund at

The Ethel and James Flinn Foundation works to improve the quality, scope and delivery of mental health services in Michigan. The Flinn Foundation focuses on advancing effective, well-researched best-practice mental health treatment programs in Michigan to improve the lives of children, adolescents and adults with mental illnesses. You can find more information about the Flinn Foundation at

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network and is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information about the foundation's work and grant programs available, please visit

The Herrick Foundation strives to invest in charitable organizations that share a long-term commitment to social welfare, including programs focused on the community, education, and health and human services. You can find more information about the Herrick Foundation at

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